Big Sur, California: Where to Stay

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Part two of our California adventure took place in beautiful Big Sur, which quickly became one of my favorite places in the entire world.

We left San Francisco bright and early to head down to our next home away from home: Glen Oaks Big Sur, a mid-century modern meets rustic motor lodge nestled in the heart of California’s redwoods.

However, the three-hour long road trip south wasn’t complete without 2 (or 20) pit stops along the Pacific Coast Highway, the most scenic highway in the USA! 

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After about two hours into the trip, you reach the towns of Monterrey and Carmel, California.  In between the two is the famous “17 Mile Drive.”

The 17 mile drive is owned by the state parks and has an admission fee of $10. Worth every penny if you ask me! The drive takes you through Pebble Beach golf courses (which my husband was gushing over) and past some of the most scenic views and lavish mansions imaginable. (I was gushing over the latter).

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There are many turn offs where you can get out and experience the views on your own.

Naturally, we stopped at almost all of them, as we were in an absolute state of awe.

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Not that I’m a golfer, but can you imagine playing golf right here?! Or just sipping on champagne in a gold cart, I’d take that too!

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I also must mention, that I am completely convinced that this is where mermaids must live.

So many rocks to sit on, such beautiful blue water to swim in! How could they not? And yes, mermaids are real. 🙂

My favorite outfit of the entire trip!

Thanks to the lovely couple that snapped this photo of us!

Later into the drive, the road starts to hug more & more cliffs, which provides even more stunning rocky views.

Like this one! (Insert heart eye emoji here)

After the 17 Mile Drive, we stopped into the town of Carmel for a quick lunch and a visit to The Cheese Shop that we heard so much about.

I’m quite the cheese head so I kind of lost it when they said I could taste whichever variety I liked. We left the shop with several bottles of red wine, a plethora of unique cheeses, crackers and even a roll of salami.  We decided that that would be our dinner later that evening. And it couldn’t have been a better decision.

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About an hour later, and after passing at least 100 more stunning vistas, we finally made it to Glen Oaks Big Sur, nestled right off of Highway 1.

As soon as we got out of our rental car to check in, we could smell the change in the air, the sap from the redwood trees, the wildflowers blooming in abundance … and I was completely over the moon.

And kind of felt like I was checking into a fancy adult summer camp. Which is right up my alley, I might add.

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Guests at Glen Oaks can stay in either the fireside rooms at the Motor Lodge or in one of the cabins nestled in a Redwood Grove that hugs the Big Sur River. (more on that in a bit!)

We stayed up in the Motor Lodge and our room couldn’t have been more perfect.

As soon as we entered through our little gate, we were welcomed into our own patio, complete with a two-way fireplace that was both visible from the patio and inside our room.

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Speaking of inside our room, I was ready to legitimately move in and never ever ever everrrr leave.

Patrick and I also had deep discussions on redecorating our house to more closely resemble this room at Glen Oaks.

One of my favorite parts was the fact that there was no television! We also had little cell-phone service which in a way “forced” us to break away from technology and enjoy each other and our surroundings.

We found a selection of board games in the room, and soon enough we were breaking into the cheese and wine we had purchased earlier.

It’s safe to say we were in our own sort of heaven that evening.

After a round of scrabble, and half a bottle of wine, we crossed the street and set out to explore Glen Oak’s Redwood Grove and see the Big Sur River.

Across from the Motor Lodge is Big Sur Roadhouse, a restaurant boasting California cuisine. Keep an eye out for the blue truck parked out front, and you won’t miss it! The restaurant was closed during our visit, but it boasts a wonderful menu that I would love to go back and try at some point!

In the meantime, a quick photo of my outfit in front of this pretty blue truck would have to do. Hey, I had to document my outfit somehow!PS: these denim shorts are Levi’s and I bought them at their flagship store in San Francisco. We found out the factory was in SF so I couldn’t resist a pair as a souvenir. They’re less than $60 and too comfortable for words!

Situated right behind the restaurant is a trail that leads guests straight into a sea of redwoods.

Please note, these photos simply do not do these redwood trees justice!

Pretty much as tall as the eye can see!

Seeing my 6’5″ husband hugging one was quite comical!

After further exploring, and pretending we were in some sort of middle earth scenario, we stumbled upon two adironadak chairs perched in the perfect spot to sit back and watch the river run by.

There was even a little bank where we could go out and dip our toes into the (freezing cold) river.

If you visit Glen Oaks in the summer, this part of the river is just deep enough for swimming. How fun would that be! (Patrick – let’s go back!)

But early spring, we made do with several rounds of skipping stones. And this oh-so-glamorous picture just had to be included!

After a relaxing evening spent amongst the redwoods, we headed back up to our room for more board games, red wine & cheese of course!

The temperatures tend to drop significantly as soon as the sun starts to set, so a visit to Glen Oaks communal fire pit was definitely in order.

At 7:00 in the evening, the fire is lit and guests can sit back, relax and chat with one another.

Glamping at its finest!

We soon tiptoed off and headed to bed, to turn on our own in-room fireplace.

And guess what we woke up to? Even more fire! (Seriously you guys, it was magical! … and much needed, as it was pretty chilly the next morning.)

The Roadhouse restaurant opens up for guests in the morning serving fresh coffee, various breakfast options, and our favorite: homemade donuts.

Patrick and I sipped our coffee on the patio and planned out our adventures for the day.

You can find those adventures in the next Big Sur post! (Coming soon!)

In the meantime, I mentioned I’d tell you all a bit about Glen Oak’s Redwood Grove cabins.

For a more secluded experience, you can rent one of five rustic little cabins with the most modern of conveniences.

And great interior design too!

Each cabin we visited had a similar mid-century style, but all of the colors, textures and art were different from one another, making each one unique.

With kitchenettes, gas fireplaces, outdoor wood burning fireplaces, heated bathroom floors and cozy woolen blankets, Glen Oak’s cabins are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the outdoors, in style.

We had such fun on our first night in Big Sur that as we were going to bed, we seriously couldn’t fathom how the next day would top it!

I pretty much live for camping trips and scenic relaxing vacations, which is why staying in Big Sur was an unbelievably perfect combination of the two.

I do have to share a few tips if you’re coming to the area though!

  1. Print your travel plans. With hardly any cell phone service, we were glad we had a guide book showing what to do and how to get there. Relying on google and GPS were not an option so this was clutch! We also screenshotted maps and restaurant options on our phones so we could look at them later.
  2. Bring Snacks (& Wine!) There are definitely enough convenient stores around to grab what you need in town, but we brought in our own snacks/light meals and bottles of wine. With such treacherous & steep roads, it was nice to be able to “wine-down” on our patio with a light dinner instead of go out for dinner each night during our trip. One thing that might surprise you about Big Sur, is that everything is really far spaced out along the highway.
  3. Pack Layers. I lived in my one sweatshirt and flannel shirt throughout our stay. I’d go from jeans, a flannel, and a sweatshirt in the morning …. all the way to shorts and a short sleeve tee in the middle of the day … then back to the jeans and sweat shirt in the evening.

Stay tuned later this week to see the rest of our trip to Big Sur! Here’s a hint, there’s a waterfall and a mermaid lagoon coming to this very blog soon. 😉

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog!


And thank you to Glen Oaks Big Sur for the wonderful stay!